Natural Sunscreens

April 22, 2012

My son Oliver was born with Becker's Nevus, a large but asymptomatic birth mark that has no apparent reason or source, but requires extra diligence in the sunscreen department according to his dermatologist. It's not that the birth mark itself is at higher risk of skin cancer, but in general people with birth marks are at an overall higher risk.

With a trip to Florida under his belt, and Brazil plane tickets in hand, this little guy is getting his fair share of experience in the baby sunscreen department.

Here's what we've learned together.

You can try to avoid the sun. UV-filter attachments for strollers, screens for car windows, placing sheets over car seats... there are ways to shield your baby from the sun, and it's good to get acquainted with them so that you can use them to reduce over-exposure, but cutting out sun altogether is no good. A little soak of rays is good for a baby, it provides vitamin D through skin conversion and can help a jaundice baby return to health. A good idea is to reduce a newborn's exposure to sun to simply letting them lay on the ground near a sunny window, and increase from there.

You can use the power of natural plant oils. Many common oils actually have sun protection factor and all it takes is slathering some on your skin and on your baby's. Here are the strengths (sorry Saira, I was sure coconut was 8!):

Hemp Seed Oil – SPF 6
Macadamia Oil – SPF 6
Sesame Oil SPF 4
Shea Butter – SPF 4
Jojoba Oil – SPF 4
Coconut Oil – SPF 2

Or, you can buy a prepared sunscreen, but keep this in mind: most on the market are no good! Remember all of those nasty chemicals in conventional sunscreens? Well babies have a higher skin surface area to actual body volume ratio, so they require more sunscreen for less chemical-filtering power. They can't handle parabens and other preservatives the way we can. That's why it's imperative that you choose a natural sunscreen for your baby - and not just one that says natural - a real tried and true natural company... like Green Beaver!

I have written about Green Beaver before. They are one of my favourite companies on the planet. Started and run in Ontario, Canada they make only natural products, in fact their sunscreen is the first 100% natural certified-organic sunscreen in Canada! It uses only unaltered zinc oxide to shield from the sun, so it creates a block on your skin instead of entering the bloodstream. They received a "1" rating which is amazing on the Environmental Working Group's Guide to Sunscreens.

Besides such wonderful ingredients and a lack of nanoparticles, Green Beaver's sunscreen is also not oily, is not whitening (this can be a real problem with "natural sunscreen") and it's good for use in the water. Oh, you mean waterproof right? Not just waterproof - it's actually safe for the water too! It's biodegradable and won't pollute the lakes that you swim in after applying. How nice!

It is available in SPF 30 for adults or kids, as well as an SPF 27 spray version, and an SPF 15 face cream. They also make - who knew - an amazing bug spray! You can buy it online through our partners at Natural Selections here

Remember, just because you have a great sunscreen system going doesn't mean your babe should be in direct sun for long periods. Babies aren't as cool at cooling down using sweating as adults are so they have a higher risk of overheating and becoming dehydrated. Always remember to keep an eye on them and give them lots of breastmilk or formula and water to keep them hydrated.

Posted by Amy Joy Harrison

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We love Green Beaver too...

Sunscreen is an area we are trying to be greener at. This year we have started using Green Beaver. It is expensive vs commercial sunscreens but I love the feel of it - reminds me of a lighter version of lanolin cream, and I feel a lot better about putting it on my kids. We are easing into the transition as we still have commercial suncreen as well, but hope to continue increasing our use of Green Beaver over time.

At long last, a Green Beaver

At long last, a Green Beaver Sunscreen for adults, and a facial spray as well. My work entails a lot of sun exposure and I have been using my daughter's Green Beaver for the longest time.

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